Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's: "Tales Of The Vampires: The Thrill"

Written by Becky Cloonan
Artwork by Vasilis Lolos

Alex (to Sebastian): “Humans aren’t just food, so why don’t you -”
Jacob: “Alex, come on. What’s the big deal?”
Alex: “The big deal? They’re soulless killers! I don’t care how that stupid reality show makes it look – you have to get the hell away from these guys, Jacob!”

This is weird. On one hand this is a part of the current run of eighth season comics but on the other, it isn’t. We’ve had issues without Buffy before (“The Chain”, “No Future For You Part 2”, and “Safe” to name three) but there isn’t a single familiar character here at all.

In the arse end of nowhere (I’m kidding, so if you’re from New Hampshire, do not take offence), you’ve got a misanthropic teenager by the name of Jacob. Like so many people his age, Jacob seems to loathe being in his home and is desperate for a way out.

Apparently his desperation is so intense that he can’t even be bothered to remember what day it happens to be because they all seem to merge together. Life is meaningless and this comic’s overt cynicism will divide readers. For a while, I wasn’t even sure I was going to review it myself.

Jacob’s monologue is pretty uninspired stuff so when a pretty girl by the name of May asked for him to light her cigarette, something had to have been up. Of course she was going to be a baddie and it almost seemed telegraphed when May started talking to Jacob’s best friend Alex.

The other thing we learn about Jacob fairly quick is that he’s in a minority of morons daft enough to let a vampire snack on him. Instead of smoking a joint, this is probably what gets Jacob through the day. I know what it’s like to feel this depressed, bored, etc. The town I live in isn’t exactly bustling with life either but I’m also caring very little about this character.

Even his apathy to his stressed out mother and sexual fantasies about Alex aren’t exactly hitting the right spots for me. Dream wise, it’s obvious that Jacob is both in love with Alex and also that he wants to become a vampire. I have a feeling that he’s going to get one of his desires.

Needless to say, his sex dream motivated him into asking Alex out on a date and it also had his adjust his attitude towards his life. Jacob thought everything was going to turn out for the better. He even went out of his way to politely refuse Sebastian and his mates a snack.

Sebastian reacted by beating the crap out of Jacob and leaving him for dead. May conveniently turning up to save him meant that Jacob had another girl with an interest in him. For someone like Jacob, turning into a vampire is a thrill. The way he gushes on about it very much romanticised vampires but it was essentially lame as well.

Even his friend Alex can’t rack her brains as to why he’s so happy to be around vampires. Because of that, it wasn’t a massive shock that she’d react badly to finding out that her only friend turned into a vampire. Well, there was Sebastian and his big mouth.

If I were Jacob, I might have used my new found strength into getting a tiny bit of payback concerning Sebastian. Scratch that, I simply would’ve staked him and the gang of idiots who beat the living daylights out of me. I have to admit that Alex won some brownie points simply by telling Sebastian off.

However one thing I really didn’t like about this story was how accepting Jacob’s mother was of it. Shouldn’t she have done more than cry for a second and decide that he should live in the basement? Like maybe fear for her life or throw him out if she couldn’t stake him.

Jacob musing over whether or not to kill his mother felt a little Dexter-esque to me but not quite as interesting. However I did like the fact that he realised that just because he was a vampire, it didn’t mean that his situation had changed.

As for wanting to move in with May, maybe it’s a sire/maker connection thing but either way, Alex’s overall jealousy of May certainly intensified in a big way. Both girls got into a scrap over the guy and if May was a vampire, then I suppose it was appropriate that Alex would be a slayer.

It was also appropriate that Alex would also be the same slayer to end up killing May as well. Because of this, Jacob ranted on about drunk drivers being more of a threat to vampires than people. Maybe there’s a point in there but if Jacob really believes that, then Alex should’ve staked him there and then.

Jacob might love being a vampire but Alex has self-loathing issues over being a slayer. Its times like this when it’s more clear that there are so many girls out there that Buffy and company haven’t been able to reach. For every Simone or Gigi out there who abuses their power and succumbs to darkness, there’s an Alex who hates herself for being chosen. Now that’s a depressing thought.

The end piece is interesting with Jacob feasting on Alex and her letting him. He asked whether or not she wanted to be turned but he also made it clear that regardless of what she chose, the choice was his. That made me hate Jacob more and if Alex did become a vampire, her self-loathing issues are certainly going to be even more maddening for her.

Also in “Tales Of The Vampires: The Thrill”

The cover with May turning Jacob is one of the most gorgeous covers that Jo Chen has done. That woman keeps excelling herself.

Jacob: “I’m stuck in this black hole town and I keep sinking further down. Something’s gotta give.”

The arcade game that Jacob wasted 12 bucks looked familiar, like one of those Tekken games that were all the rage years ago.

Sebastian: “You’re too late today. I just ate.”
Jacob: “Are … are you sure? I mean …”
Sebastian: “I tell you what, kid. I’m done feeding for tonight, but I’ve got a couple of friends I could introduce you to. Get in.”

Jacob: “I dreamt about you last night.”
Alex: “Okay, that’s too much information.”
Jacob: “Do you want to get dinner tonight?”

Not to sound prudish but there was a fair chunk of nudity in this comic, most of it being Jacob of course.

Jacob (re girl): “I was in her shoes once. Just trying to shake up my boring life. I wanted to feel something. Anything. Begging for a thrill. Now I am the thrill. And it’s unlike anything I could have ever imagined.”

Alex: “Are you his girlfriend?”
May: “What, Jacob hasn’t told you about us?”

I noticed an ad for DragonCon, which will feature Charisma Carpenter, James Marsters, Julie Benz and Kristy Swanson.

Alex: “W … we?”
Jacob: “Yes, Alex. I’m a vampire now. I was trying to explain before you went all … slayer? So what now? You gonna kill me too?”
Alex: “I never wanted to be a sluh … slayer.”

Jacob (re Alex): “I know, right now you’re probably thinking, ‘oh my God, what will she do?’ But this isn’t about her choice. It’s about my choice. It’s about finally having the courage to feel something and wanting more.”

“Retreat Part 1” will be released on July 1st. I’m so looking forward to it.

“Tales Of The Vampires: The Thrill” didn’t thrill me. Jacob’s story, while dark in it’s own right just didn’t engage me the way it should. Maybe if there had been some involvement with the Scoobies, I might have cared but this was a by the numbers storyline.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

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